Putin’s American Fan Club

If you think about the comments coming from right-wing politicians in America, you have to wonder why they admire Vladimir Putin so much.  One after the other, the familiar warhorses trot up to the microphone to tell you how “decisive” Putin is and how much they despise President Obama’s “waffling.”

Rudy Giuliani, John McCain (and sidekick Lindsey Graham, of course), Sarah Palin…

The Putin fan club parade marches on.

Their complaint?

President Obama thinks twice before putting Americans at risk. He seeks the advice of experts before pursuing a course of action. He ponders all sides of complex issues before making decisions.

It’s no wonder Sarah Palin says he “wears mom jeans.”

I find this display of hero worship for Putin quite revealing. It opens a window to the fantasy world inhabited by the American right, and the view is remarkably similar to that in which Putin holds sway.

It’s a comic book kind of world, where problems are solved with POW! and WHAM! and SOCK!  It is a world of action figures and dramatic confrontations.

It certainly seems that Putin sees himself as that kind of action figure. He rides – and wrestles – bears. He shoots tigers. He catches huge fish. He’s the man!

When he felt the Russian-speaking minority in Georgia were being persecuted, Putin sent in the cavalry. When ethnic Russians seemed at risk in the Crimea, he rode to their rescue once again, no questions asked. Mother Russia to the rescue!

So what if he is in violation of international law? Did James Bond care about international law?

Superheroes don’t read the fine print. They take action.

Of course a moose-hunting Wonder Woman like Sarah Palin would admire that kind of thing. And of course Rudy Giuliani  – the self-proclaimed hero of Nine-Eleven – can relate to Putin. So can “war hero” John McCain.

They live in the same kind of self-glorifying fantasy world that Putin seems to inhabit.

After talking to Putin on the phone, German Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded he had lost his grip on reality. And he might have. He seems to be so immersed in his own narcissistic fantasy that he hardly noticed it when his wife of many years divorced him. In his recent press conference he was rambling and incoherent. His declarations are so obviously false that he must know nobody believes them.

But what if Putin is putting on an act? What if the former spy is staging a PR show for the benefit of simple-minded observers? What if he has more complicated motives for his actions? What if he has a more far-reaching and menacing agenda than he admits?

What if it’s the American right who have lost their grip on reality?

Click for Palin’s mom jeans comment.

Click for Giuliani’s opinions.

Click for McCain’s view.


November’s Vote Could Turn the Right Loose on America

I can’t understand why but it looks as if the Republican Party could win control of the Senate in November – and keep the House. That would put an end to President Obama’s ambitious program. And it would mark the beginning of an all-out war by the federal government against such “aberrations” as non-procreational sex and racial integration.

I know, it sounds crazy. This is 2014 after all, not the eighteen hundreds.

But this is America, and it seems that a lot of Americans, especially in rural areas, hunger for a return to the “good old days.” when marriage was the only rightful place for sexual intimacy, and the missionary position was the only respectable way to do it. In this mythical “golden age,” men married women and women married men – end of story. God was the only one who decided if and when a woman had children (the God of Abraham, of course, not some heathen deity). And black folk knew their place.

In those days, a (white) man’s home was his castle, and the lady of the house deferred to his desires.

Indeed, in this surreal universe, the white male was the one who was made in God’s image (the white woman was made from the man’s rib) and it was the white male who was given dominion over all other creatures, including white females and non-white people of both genders.

This Godlike creature had sinned – not him personally but his original ancestor – by disobeying the Almighty, and was obliged ever after to eat bread by the sweat of his brow. It was up to him to share that bread with whomever he pleased, not up to any secular authority to take part of it from him and give it to some lay-about.

I know, you think I’ve gone stark, raving mad. But consider the policies being promoted – and implemented – by Republican legislatures across America. A blizzard of anti-abortion laws, for example – and proposals to curb birth control… Voter suppression laws targeting ethnic minorities… Stand-your-ground legislation that legitimizes the murder of young, black males, who are presumed to be threatening by their mere existence… “Religious freedom” bills that would give anyone the right to discriminate against anyone else on any grounds because of any religious belief…

Consider the debates going on in the Republican Party. I read this morning that some Republican strategists are suggesting the party abandon attempts to appeal to non-whites and openly face voters as white America’s political voice. I have also read arguments by Republicans against requiring hospitals to treat indigents. And there are some who now say the government has no obligation – and no right – to try and help the poor.

You might think this is the path to political suicide, considering the changing face of America. But not so fast. Some 65 percent of the American electorate is still “Caucasian.” And most American families, although not wealthy,  live above the poverty level.  I can’t imagine the majority of these people embracing the new Republican philosophy, but what if they do that? What if even some of them do – enough to swing the vote in November?

What if the Republicans convince enough of the mainly white, mainly self-sufficient American elecorate that Obamacare takes from white retirees and gives to non-white children? What if the swarm of lies generated by the right-wing propaganda machine hit home? What if deep-pocketed crusaders like the Koch Brothers overwhelm Democratic candidates with attack ads?

It is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. But contemplate it we must if we hope to avoid it.

Click for more on GOP and white America.

Click for a preview of November’s elections.


The West’s Secret Weapon


Vladimir Putin is cunning but that doesn’t mean he’s wise.  Sure, his invasion of the Ukraine looks like a shrewd gamble. Especially invasion of the Crimea. Stalin’s bloody ethnic cleansing left Russians as the overwhelming majority in the Crimea, and Kruschev’s gesture of ceding the territory to the Ukraine was empty symbolism. After all, at that time the entire region was part of the Russian dominated Soviet Union.

Naturally, the Russians in the Crimea are happy to welcome Putin’s troops. You may have seen them on TV cheering and yelling for Russia to take them back.

As for the rest of the Ukraine, resistance to Russia would be futile without military support from the West. And I don’t think the West is prepared to go to war with Putin. Not now, with the echoes of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars still ringing in their ears. But they don’t have to. And that’s where Putin is making a big miscalculation.

It wasn’t military might that brought down the Berlin Wall. It wasn’t troops that won the Cold War.

The Communist economic model failed.

And if Putin tried to bring it back, it would fail again.

He is reportedly trying to create an economic trading bloc to rival the EEU and he needs the Ukraine to make his plan work. But I don’t think he is contemplating a separate economic system. Russia has been there and done that. And since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russian interests – legal and illegal – have jumped into the global marketplace with both feet.

But the Russian economy has struggled under Putin and the ruble has lost significant value. I am sure the various power elites in Russia are not jumping up and down with joy.

An article in Politico quotes “a senior administration official” as saying Russia risks being cut off from Western banking and finance networks if Putin does not reverse his course on the Ukraine.

And that’s where the West - especially the US, which is the keeper of the world’s reserve currency – has an ace in the hole.

If President Obama succeeds in isolating Russia economically and financially, the country’s “elites” would be hit where it hurts – in their wallets. They would inevitably turn against Putin.

The Russian strong man should think twice about the path he’s taking. But, of course, he won’t.

Click for Obama’s options.

Click for more on the Russian economy.


Here Comes the Boom?

What do you do if you are the President of the United States and you are informed that Russia has invaded the Ukraine? Of course you deplore this unlawful aggression. And of course you demand immediate withdrawal of the invading troops. And of course your demands will be ignored.

So what now?

Especially if you intensely dislike the smart-ass who runs Russia and he feels the same about you – only more so.

I know what John McCain would do. I know what Dick Cheney would do.

And I know what dozens of pundits and other influential people will do. They will sit in their safe, comfortable offices and armchairs and urge the President to let loose the dogs of war. Again.

And if he is persuaded?

Once again, the battle weary doughboys (or dogfaces – or whatever they call them now) would go marching into harm’s way. Wives and husbands, fathers and mothers -and wide-eyed kids who were just getting to know their parents again - would see their loved ones shipped off to someplace they can’t even spell, let alone find on a map, to offer their lives and limbs in the service of their country.

From what I have read, the invaded Ukrainians have a right to expect US intervention. There’s compelling evidence that American organizations were involved in fomenting the anti-Russian revolt. And the rebels are expecting more than canceled trade agreements and sanctions.

But Russia is not Iraq. Vladimir Putin is not Saddam Hussein.

Conflict with Russia would indeed be the Mother of All Wars.

So what does the President do?

Vladimir Putin is not a prudent statesman with a firm grasp of the Big Picture. He is a narcissistic ex-spy who likes to bare his manly chest and wrestle bears. His “tough guy” image is legendary  (photo above). His prudence is not.

You can’t pick up the phone and call the guy, talk it over with him and come to a sane solution to your differences.

Besides, what do you say? Hey Vladimir, I know we Americans got the Ukrainians riled up and helped them kick out their legally elected president because he signed a financial agreement with you instead of joining the EEU. But, hey, can we still be friends?

I don’t think so.

Who would stand with Russia if America stood up to Putin? The EEU surely. And the UK perhaps. Japan, too, I guess. And South Korea?

If South Korea jumps in, North Korea is sure to respond.

And where does that leave North Korea’s patron – China?

I don’t even want to know.

Of course President Obama has foreign relations experts who get paid (handsomely) to give him advice.  And he has those medal-encrusted old guys at the Pentagon, who are sure to remind him that America’s troops have seen far too many deployments already.

I bet they will suggest reinstating the draft if he decides to go to the mat with Putin. What else could he do?

Do you remember Vietnam” Do you remember the protests? Do you remember “The Sixties”?

I do.

Click for news of the Ukrainian crisis.

Click for President Obama’s position.

Click for more on Putin.


Warning: Your Home May be Hazardous to Your Health

I had one of those sneezing fits this morning, the kind Sandra and I usually blame on the cats, and my eyes are smarting and teary… Not a pretty picture.

So I was more than a little intrigued when I read an article on the web suggesting the cats may not be to blame after all. Apparently it’s those big, bad corporations that might be doing it to me.

The piece, which originally appeared on a site named Tom Dispatch and got picked up by Salon.com, makes the situation sound dire.

According to the article:

Today, we are all unwitting subjects in the largest set of drug trials ever. Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown.

The ominous-sounding passage reminded me of a scandal I had heard about. in which officials infected prisoners with syphilis to test some new drug. Of course that was a long time ago, and surely America has progressed since then?

Not so much, apparently. I just signed a petition asking the government to stop making companies test cosmetics on animals. I won’t go into detail because it’s a horrifying story and we have enough horror in our lives (and on our TVs) already. But if the powers that be show so little concern for the suffering of animals why would they worry about endangering humans?

The Tom Dispatch article – by vinyl, formaldehyde, asbestos, something called Bisphenol A and chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls.

What, I wondered, is going on? I know the air is full of soot and other pollutants spewing from power companies and industrial plants, but Bisphenol A and polychlorinated biphenyls – whatever they are)?

Here’s the scoop, according to the article:

The story of how Americans became unwitting test subjects began more than a century ago.  The key figure was Alice Hamilton, the “mother” of American occupational medicine, who began documenting the way workers in lead paint pigment factories, battery plants, and lead mines were suffering terrible palsies, tremors, convulsions, and deaths after being exposed to lead dust that floated in the air, coating their workbenches and clothes.

Soon thereafter, children exposed to lead paint and lead dust in their homes were also identified as victims of this deadly neurotoxin.  Many went into convulsions and comas after crawling on floors where lead dust from paint had settled, or from touching lead-painted toys, or teething on lead-painted cribs, windowsills, furniture, and woodwork.

And that’s just lead. Today, Americans are being exposed to a seemingly endless array of potentially dangerous chemicals, disguised as day-to-day house-and-garden stuff.  The article warns that “thousands” of these toxins are “firmly embedded in our lives and our bodies.”

It’s no wonder I’m having sneezing fits! In fact, as the boll weevil said to the farmer, it’s a wonder I ain’t dead.

Click to read the article.

Click for safety tips.

Click for officials infecting prisoners.


Are the Mainstream Media Telling us the Real Story ?

It could be just me but the media seem different today from the days of my youth.  Back then I felt I could count on a responsible press to ferret out the facts and present them as fairly and accurately as possible. Now, the “news” seems tainted by all kinds of outside influences, from corporate pressure to the ratings game – with various special interests constantly seeking to “spin” the facts in their favor.

Consider the reporting on the violence in the Ukraine, for example. Do you really know what’s going on? I don’t.

It seems to me that CNN and the other TV news channels are presenting the violence as a kind of “Arab Spring,” in which “the people” are rising up to throw off the yoke imposed on them by a wicked dictator who is in Russia’s pocket.

Some of that could be true. There’s a part of the Ukraine that harbors deep grudges against Russia.It would not be surprising if they were angered by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to sign a financial agreement with Russia instead of joining the European Economic Union.

But those people got to vote in the election that made Yanukovych president. They lost, as some people inevitably do in democratic elections. And it seems to me they should live with it, not throw Molotov cocktails about.

What I haven’t heard discussed on CNN or MSNBC (my TV news sources) is the role being played by American right-wing agitators. But I’ve been reading that kind of thing on the web, where American subversion is widely blamed for the violent uprising.

Reports on the web claim that America has “invested” $5 billion in influencing Ukrainian politics, and that private US-based organizations are working with the CIA to bring about “regime change” in that country. I’ve even read that many of the violent protesters are being paid to throw those Molotov cocktails.

Obviously, I don’t know how much of this (if any) is true. But I understand there are groups that secretly subvert foreign governments, supposedly in the interests of the United States, and that some of these private initiatives receive government funding.

I would like to say the Republicans are behind it. After all, one of the alleged right-wing troublemakers is the National Endowment for Democracy (a bedfellow of John McCain’s International Republican Institute), and I understand McCain has been visiting the Ukraine, stirring up hostility against Russia. But billionaire George Soros, who has been one of the Democratic Party’s biggest financial supporters, is also being identified as one of those working for “regime change” in the Ukraine.

And there’s that leaked Victoria Nuland phone conversation (the one in which she used some shockingly salty language). Nuland is the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in the Obama Administration and she was unknowingly taped while talking to Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, about regime change in that former Soviet nation.

Obviously, there’s more than one political party – or political movement – involved in whatever is going on in the Ukraine.

I’ve even read reports of neo-Nazi involvement in the uprising. A man named Dmitro Yarosh, the leader of Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), has been telling the foreign press that his men have amassed an arsenal of deadly weapons and are prepared “to defend all of Ukraine” from the government.

It’s worrying for so many reasons. Once again, the world seems in danger of war – hot or cold. Once again, America is being dragged into confrontations between foreign interest groups. I read, for example, that President Obama and Vladimir Putin are exchanging warnings about the Ukraine.

Have the people who really run America learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan? Or have they learned even more about fostering their own interests at the expense of the nation’s?

Click for US involvement.

Click for one (non-US) version of the story.

Click for Victoria Nuland’s gaffe.

Click for McCain’s visit.


What Would Jesus Say?

I can’t recall reading anything Jesus said about homosexuals, can you? Surely, there were some homosexuals in Galilee in His time? Or in big cities like Jerusalem? It stands to reason that in the massive crowds that followed Him, and even among the thousands that He healed, some must have been homosexuals. But, as far as I know, He never uttered a word of reproach to them.

I know there are dire edicts about stoning homosexual men to death (I don’t see anything about stoning lesbians) in the Old Testament. But the Old Testament also decrees stoning for all kinds of things – adultery, of course, and – if my memory can be trusted – not observing the Sabbath. Jesus didn’t endorse stoning. His message was one of forgiveness and tolerance.

So why has the Christian right launched such a fierce crusade against homosexuals?

I know it can be unsettling to be exposed to someone else’s sexuality, especially when it’s different from yours. But isn’t it enough to tell them to “get a room”?

It certainly was not enough for the so-called Christians who traveled from America to Uganda to agitate for laws that included the death penalty for practicing homosexuality. (The public outcry made Ugandans drop the death penalty and, as passed, the law decrees life imprisonment, not death.)

It certainly was not enough for  Republican lawmakers across America who are proposing legislation ostensibly to protect “religious freedom.”  In practice, such laws would  give businesses and individuals the right to deny services or employment to anyone whose lifestyle violates their religious beliefs.

You can imagine how such laws could be interpreted. They would legalize discrimination not only against homosexuals but against just about anyone. One application of such “religious freedom” would allow employers to ignore the new health care law’s decree to provide birth control in employees’ health insurance. The same principle would protect restaurants that discriminate against customers – or employers who discriminate against workers – from being sued.

The latest battlefront is in Arizona, where a bill to give individuals and businesses the right to diiscriminate on religious grounds is on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk. The governor vetoed a similar bill last year and is under pressure – even from fellow-Republicans like John McCain and Mitt Romney – to veto this version. But even if she does, you can bet you haven’t seen the last of such legislation.

And watch for the same kind of “religious freedom” argument to emerge in Washington DC.   The ghosts of Oliver Cromwell and the Salem witch burners are marching once again.

And, incredibly, they’re marching in the name of the gentlest of men – Jesus of Nazareth.

Click for more on the “religious freedom” movement.

Click for the Uganda law.

Click for what the Bible says about homosexuals.

Click for stoning in the Old Testament.


We Have to Have Taxes, but Could They be Less Taxing?

Have you filed your income tax return yet? April 15 is just a few weeks away. It’s an annual ordeal for Sandra and me. We wait till the last minute every year and scurry about trying to find someone who knows how to do these things. Surely, paying taxes shouldn’t have to be so taxing?

Of course the more complex and burdensome the process the more work it provides for the “experts.” That might be one reason the massive and convoluted tax code never gets simplified despite politicians’ perennial promises to do so.

A lot of the folks I talk with in this part of Florida – Republicans of course – favor the flat tax floated by conservatives from the dawn of time. They figure everybody should just pay 10 percent of their income with no exemptions. After all, isn’t that what it says in the Bible?

I’ve even seen bumper stickers declaring that “if Ten Percent is enough for God it should be enough for the Government.”

But where does that leave the special interests who are the backbone of the Republican Party? Rich people and giant corporations like General Electric would have to actually start paying taxes instead of just complaining about them. With the web of complexity created by the current system, they can hire smart accountants and lawyers to weasel them out of paying any taxes.

At least they’re providing employment for the accountants and lawyers, so the system is not entirely without its benefits.

It seems everybody has been promising to do something about the tax code. President Obama wants to close “loopholes” that the rich use to dodge their “fair share” of taxes, for example. And the Republicans want the poorest Americans to shoulder a bigger share of the tax burden. The rich pay far too much already, Republicans argue. It’s the poor – the infamous “47 percent” – who are shirking their duty to the country.

One thing everybody seems to agree on: the current four million-word tax code is absurdly cumbersome and blatantly unfair. Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson says it “inflicts a significant, even unconscionable burden” and is so complex that the Internal Revenue Service has severe difficulty administering it.

From time to time, some ambitious politician comes up with “the answer” to America’s unfair tax system.

One proposal surfacing in this morning’s news is from Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee. Camp is a Republican so I suppose it was only natural for him to seek relief for his rich pals.  Not surprisingly, he wants to slash the top income tax rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent.

According to news reports, the plan would also reduce the U.S. tax brackets from seven to two – 10 percent and 25 percent.

Some affluent folks wouldn’t get off quite that easily, however. Camp would impose a 10 percent surtax on certain kinds of earned income above $450,000 a year. The surtax would hit salaried professionals like lawyers and accountants, but not farmers and manufacturers. (I imagine Camp’s campaign contributors must include a lot of farmers and manufacturers, don’t you?)

Camp’s plan would eliminate some existing exemptions to make up for lost revenue, but news sources haven’t yet been able to determine what breaks are targeted. My guess is they include the home mortgage interest exemption, which is the biggest boon to middle class families, not the more exotic provisions that allow corporations and the rich to shelter their income on shore and off.

Not that it matters, of course. Camp’s plan is just election-year fodder. Like the myriad proposals floated over the years, it has zero chance of becoming law.

Photo above shows National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson with those bulky tax code volumes.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Click for the AP story.

Click for the President’s proposal.

Click for more on the existing tax code.


Another “Liberal” Television Commentator Gets the Boot

The beat goes on… This time it’s Piers Morgan who must say goodbye. I see a trend here, don’t you? Keith Obermann’s head was the first to roll as I remember it, but checking the web, I see that the NBC suits dumped Phil Donahue back in 2002 because (according to a leaked internal memo) they thought he would act as “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”

Muzzling liberal commentators obviously isn’t new, but the trend seems to have accelerated in recent years. MSNBC, which pretends to be the liberal answer to Fox News, has fired several hosts for being too outspoken. Dylan Ratigan for one. Cenk Uygur for two. They even tried to sweep Ed under the rug but the fans wouldn’t let them.  Ed seems safe for now, but it looks as if Rachel is in danger.

When “liberal” icon Bill Maher starts picking on you, watch out. And he’s not the only one. Even Olbermann is criticizing Rachel these days.

The corporate television establishment tolerates people like Maher, smug and obvious though he so often is because – hey – he’s only kidding! He’s a humorist, see? You’re not supposed to take his jibes seriously. The same goes for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Who says conservatives can’t take a joke?

What they can’t – and won’t – take is the truth.

Olbermann wasn’t trying to be funny. He was trying to jolt Americans out of their complacency, shouting the truth from the rooftops, as it were. Ratigan, too. He was trying to warn Americans that the big banks were stealing the nation’s money in broad daylight.  Uygur also thought he could get away with telling it like it is. He didn’t last long.

And did I mention Martin Bashir? Who, you ask. How soon we forget.

Which brings us to Piers Morgan. He lasted three years. And he thought he could speak truth to power. Wrong.

CNN will tell you the Piers Morgan show gets low ratings. But isn’t that true of all of CNN’s programming? CNN is in one of the worst ratings slumps of its history. I don’t think it was his ratings that did Piers Morgan in. My guess is that he took on the wrong folks.

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape and you don’t mess around with the National Rifle Association. Not in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Not in this era of corporate-owned media.

You gotta know when to hold ‘em, Piers. You got to know when to fold ‘em. You gotta know when to walk away. You gotta know when to run.

The corporate suits call the shots. Corporations own the TV and radio stations – all of the commercial ones, anyway (the politicians own NPR).  And corporations own the Republican Party. So do the advertisers who keep TV and radio alive.  Remember that the next time you find yourself in front of a TV camera, Piers.

Whatever happened to the good old days when the unions owned the talk radio stations? How does the left expect to win the message war when they’ve let the right grab all the microphones?

Click for Piers Morgan’s firing.

Click for Maher’s swipe at Rachel.




Circus on the Right – Crazy? Or “Crazy Like a Fox”?

The face of today’s Republican Party – at least its public face – is contorted in maniacal rage. Overheated rhetoric has given way to pejorative – even threatening – diatribes against the President, and the party’s leaders openly talk about being “at war” with Democrats. In Texas, a rock-and-roll relic named Ted Nugent is hurling the grossest threats and insults at President Obama while publicly campaigning on behalf of the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Meanwhile, that old war horse, Rush Limbaugh, spews one outrage after another, secure in the knowledge that very deep pockets are supporting him even when his radio program is losing millions from boycotts.

The display of theatrical excessiveness is not restricted to the lunatic fringe. The entire Grand Old Party has become a circus.

Party leaders, for example, have transformed their campaign headquarters into a bizarre stage set. This from the Washington Post:

At the headquarters where Republicans are plotting their takeover of the Senate, camouflage netting hangs from the ceiling and walls. Military surplus sandbags are piled up around operatives’ desks. And an ex-Marine named Ward Baker rattles off statistics that add up to trouble for Democrats.

“Our mentality is that we are at war every day,” said Baker, who as political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is helping command the 2014 midterm campaigns. “We’re here for one reason: to win the majority. Anything else is a failure.”

Demagogues like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul hog the limelight with extremist proclamations and irresponsible grandstanding, while more restrained party leaders are brushed aside. Incredibly, Cruz was named “statesman of the year” by Sarasota, Florida, Republicans.

How, I ask myself, can anyone expect to be entrusted with the reins of government when they behave in such outlandish ways?

And then I remember the saying, usually attributed to P,T. Barnum, that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

In the clatter and clamor of a society like this, name recognition seems to be everything. A homicidal clod who escaped the chair after shooting a black teenager to death in Florida is now a “celebrity” and was recently featured in a pay-per-view boxing promotion. Serial killers can peddle their stories for millions. Rogues and con artists get elected and re-elected with disheartening regularity.

In view of all this, it occurs to me that the Republicans might be smarter than they seem. After all, they’re getting hours of free air time with their grotesque behavior. They know the media can’t resist the allure of free entertainment programming, however distasteful the content might be.

And they’re betting that the American public will be so distracted by the ongoing circus that they will be duped into voting against their own best interests. With no palatable policies to offer, the party cannot depend on substantive discussion to contest the midterm elections. They’re obliged to resort to stagecraft and trickery, like the snake oil salesmen of old.

I can only hope that the American public is more sophisticated today. We will find out in November.

Click for more on LImbaugh’s losses.

Click for more on the GOP strategy.

Click for Ted Nugent’s insults.

Click for more about Ted Nugent.